- Associated Press - Sunday, January 4, 2015

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - Columbia is looking to bolster its cybersecurity after an attack shut down the city’s website for nearly three days.

Beginning around 11 p.m. on Dec. 24, the city website, gocolumbiamo.com, experienced a distributed denial of service attack, The Columbia Daily Tribune (https://bit.ly/17860Pa) reported. The website was flooded with requests from multiple computers, and remained offline until around noon Dec. 27.

Deputy City Manager Tony St. Romaine said it’s not possible to prevent such an attack from happening, but there are ways to mitigate it, at a price. St. Romaine previously said an online post indicated the group Anonymous was taking credit for the attack, although he can’t be certain the loosely organized network of activist hackers is to blame. The online post in the Counter Current News said Columbia’s website was targeted after the hackers learned of a video of a February 2010 SWAT team raid of a man’s home. The SWAT team found a misdemeanor amount of marijuana and shot two dogs in the home, killing one. Release of the video sparked outrage and spurred changes in police policies and procedures.

St. Romaine said there was no cost involved in the outage because salaried staff worked to fix it. But he said it was an inconvenience to those wanting to visit the website, which includes city documents, bill-paying options and other functions.

St. Romaine said there are services that guarantee to keep websites operating. The annual cost estimates have been between $50,000 and $100,000.

Prasad Calyam, assistant professor of computer science at the University of Missouri, said many companies are turning to cloud solutions for website hosting, and those include content delivery networks. A content delivery network also can improve access speed when a website is not being attacked, he said.

St. Romaine said content delivery networks are among the options the city is considering.


Information from: Columbia Daily Tribune, https://www.columbiatribune.com

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